Huda Fahmy Tackles the Ownership of Identity and More in “Huda F Cares?”

Fahmy's first YA graphic novel “Huda F Are You?” borrows from her actual life, following a character named Huda whose family has moved to a small town with a big Muslim population. Huda quickly learns that when everyone is Muslim, being Muslim doesn't define her, and grapples with her identity.

Left: The cover of "Huda F Cares?" Right: Author Huda Fahmy
In Fahmy's follow up to her acclaimed fictionalize graphic memoir, the eponymous Huda asks herself the question that Fahmy asked herself constantly at the same age: “I love being Muslim, but does that mean I have to love being different?”

Huda Fahmy just published her second Young Adult (YA) fictionalized graphic memoir, “Huda F Cares?” The book is a follow-up to the highly praised “Huda F Are You?” and is a finalist for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature. Now is a great time to learn more about Fahmy and her work before picking up the new book.

Fahmy is an Egyptian American author and artist known for her webcomic series "Yes, I'm Hot in This." Originally an English teacher, Fahmy began writing about her experiences as a hijab-wearing Muslim woman in America before her older sister encouraged her to turn her stories into comics. Fahmy has since gained popularity on social media — previously Twitter, and now primarily Instagram — for her humorous and relatable comics that explore the experiences and challenges of being a Muslim woman living in the United States. 

"Yes, I'm Hot in This," originally a collection of webcomics, has since been turned into a book of the same name. The comic provides a glimpse into Fahmy’s life, her personal experiences and the various aspects of her identity as a Muslim woman. "Yes, I'm Hot in This" touches on a wide range of topics, including cultural clashes, family dynamics, relationships and societal stereotypes; Fahmy approaches all with humor and insight. The webcomic still updates regularly on Fahmy’s Instagram account.

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A post shared by Huda F (@yesimhotinthis)

While "Yes, I'm Hot in This" and Fahmy’s other book “That Can Be Arranged: A Muslim Love Story” are both geared at adults, Fahmy turned towards a younger audience with “Huda F Are You?” The YA graphic novel borrows from Fahmy’s actual life as it follows a character also named Huda, whose family has just moved to a small town with a big Muslim population. Huda quickly feels out of place — when everyone is Muslim, there's not a specific Muslim clique like there was in her last town, and now she must grapple with the fact that “wearing hijab is not a personality trait.” Young Huda goes on a journey to find herself and figure out her place in her community.

There are certainly many pieces of “Huda F Are You?” that are fictionalized, but it draws its emotional beats from its author’s lived experiences. In conversation with Publishers Weekly, Fahmy said she chose to focus her graphic novel on a younger audience because, “I think it’s important for young readers who are first generation or children of immigrants to have someone they can relate to. A lot of times they can feel out of place in their own community. It’s like they have a foot in both communities, and they just can’t seem to find a place where they fit in.” Fahmy explained that “Huda F Are You?” is not just about adolescence but also how she became the type of adult that she is — in her own words, “The type of person who has the confidence to stand up and speak out against bias or prejudice.”

“I always thought that [not fitting in] was unique to me, that nobody else knows what I’m going through,” Fahmy continued. “And then you grow up and realize that that was really common and a lot of people … have an identity crisis, which I continue to struggle with to this day. I’ll go into a mosque and still feel like I don’t fit in … Am I Arab enough? It’s confusing. It’s a struggle. And I think it’s something a lot of kids relate to today. It’s a story that you don’t hear often. It felt like an important story to tell and it was very close to where I am in my life.”

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A post shared by Huda F (@yesimhotinthis)

Fahmy continues to prod at identity in “Huda F Cares?” In this new sequel, the fictional Fahmy family embarks on a vacation to Disney World. However, self-conscious Huda is worried about standing out in public. The story follows Huda and her sisters on a challenging 24-hour road trip from Michigan to Florida, where they must adjust to the world outside of their predominantly Muslim community in Dearborn. The vacation leads to unexpected sisterly bonding, new friendships, increased independence and mixed emotions about their public prayers. Huda takes pride in her identity and faith but struggles with caring too much about others' opinions.

“Huda F Cares?” is on sale now.

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